2016 Auckland Nines – Waiheke Group preview

The 2016 Dick Smith Electronic Auckland Nines draw was announced earlier this week.  South Sydney are the defending champions for the tournament.

We have a look at what the Waiheke Group draw means for each club for the event that will take place at Eden Park on 6-7 February 2016.

POOL: Waiheke

With three of the four teams making the semi-finals this year, the Waiheke Pool looks the most outstanding group in the tournament.  It’s also the third time South Sydney and Melbourne have met at the preliminary stage with both sides recording one win each.

Sydney Roosters
2014 record: 1 win, 2 losses
2015 record: 3 wins, 2 losses (semi-finalists)
Odds: $17 (Sportsbet)

Big test for the Roosters with defending winners and an Eels side with Radradra expected to qualify.  Last year the Roosters played James Maloney and Mitchell Pearce in the halves and successfully made the semis.  This tournament might give Jackson Hastings a chance to shine and show the rugby league world why he’s destined for big things.  Don’t be surprised if Joe Burgess gets a run.  This former Wigan Warrior is just 21 and has already scored 49 tries in 55 Super League appearances.  Maybe he’ll have better success than Sam Tomkins did down under.  Must beat either Rabbitohs or Eels to advance.  Won’t be an easy task.

South Sydney Rabbitohs
2014 record: 2 wins, 2 losses (quarter-finalists)
2015 record: 5 wins, 1 loss (Winners)
Odds: $11 (Sportsbet)

South Sydney Rabbitohs took the tournament very seriously this year off the back of a drought ending National Rugby League Premiership. Their hopes will depend on Adam Reynolds.  He carved up in last year’s tournament with his best performance coming against Chris Sandow’s Parramatta Eels in the semi finals.  Should advance through to the second phase and be a chance of retaining their title.

Parramatta Eels
2014 record: 2 wins, 2 losses (quarter-finalists)
2015 record: 3 wins, 2 losses (semi-finalists)
Odds: $12 (Sportsbet)

First time around the Eels made the quarters and last year the semis.  Could Semi Radradra be the player to advance them to a spot in the Final?  It will also be interesting to see if new recruits Kieran Foran, Michael Gordon and Kieran Moss play – there’s some serious good talent among those three.  Moss in particular stuck in Penrith’s successful VB NSW Cup side over the last few years could be a player going under the radar at this tournament.  Should advance to the quarters and go further.

Melbourne Storm
2014 record: 1 win, 2 losses
2015 record: 1 win, 2 losses
Odds: $17 (Sportsbet)

In the past it seemed that the Auckland Nines has been an unwanted distraction for the Melbourne Storm as they look further afield to their National Rugby League campaign proper.  This tournament will give us a chance to marvel over the brilliance of Cameron Munster who’s in line to take over from Billy Slater as fullback eventually.  It’s a good chance for Cheyse Blair to be given a run in Storm colours after his transfer from Manly in the off-season.  Other than that, Melbourne will take this as a training run and with all other sides making the semis in 2015.  No chance of making the next stage.

PREDICTION: South Sydney, Parramatta to advance.


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